By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. November 25, 2012: The Federal Government has mandated all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the country to purchase computers by indigenous companies in keeping with its resolve to also promote local content in the ICT industry, Omobola Johnson Minster of Communication Technology has confirmed.
The CommTech remains unapologetic about the government’s directive hoped to drive growth among the Nigerian PC industry while underscoring that it is “a case of putting our money where our mouth is.”
With the public sector seen as the biggest technology buyer in the economy today, market watchers reckon that it will again open a new vista for Nigerian PC makers like Zinox Technologies, Brian Technologies, Omatek Computers, Beta Computers and Veda Computers, among others.
[blockquote right=”pull-right”]“With the public sector seen as the biggest technology buyer in the economy today, market watchers reckon that it will again open a new vista for Nigerian PC makers like Zinox Technologies, Brian Technologies, Omatek Computers, Beta Computers and Veda Computers, among others.” [/blockquote]
The CommTech Minister reiterated the government position last week while intimating participants of the eNigeria 2012 Conference in Abuja of some of the successful initiatives that the Ministry and its agencies are pursuing to improve domestic value addition and local content development in the ICT industry.
Johnson says that one of such initiatives is the launch of the Student Laptop Ownership scheme that is premised on granting reasonably-priced loans to parents and guardians of students in tertiary institutions to purchase locally-assembled laptops.
Others include the establishment of two pilot ICT Incubation Centres at Tinapa Knowledge City, Cross River State and eLearning Centre, Lagos to encourage and nurture the development of successful ICT businesses and the launch of a N2.4 billion ($15 million) venture capital fund specifically for ICT entrepreneurs to provide early stage financing of innovations.
Under the plan, the Ministry plans to launch a one-year programme, InnovateIT, in collaboration with the banking, oil and gas industries to drive the development of indigenous software to support the needs of companies in these industries, she says.
Also, a Skills and Research Development Institute will be established by IBM in collaboration with the Digital Bridge Institute to build technical capacity and drive innovation in the ICT sector.
The CommTech Minister notes that the Ministry is in an ongoing discussion with the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office to ensure that tariff reviews on imported finished goods and inputs into domestic production of ICT goods and services create a level and competitive playing field for all participants in the ICT sector.
Earlier this year, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an agency under the CommTech Ministry had announced a guideline for the purchase of Made-in-Nigeria computers by MDAs.
The guideline strictly put a ban on foreign computers and technology products in public institutions and schools to encourage patronage of Made-in-Nigeria initiative and foster growth in the local ICT industry, given the quantum of hardware and software applications imported and used in Nigeria, which have posed a considerable drain on her foreign exchange, according to NITDA, the IT Policy implementer.
The Minister’s latest confirmation reinforces the NITDA guideline, as she decries the low PC penetration in Nigeria, ranked as the lowest in Africa.
She notes that the affordability and availability of the devices and the slow pace at which ICTs were being adopted for teaching and learning in secondary and tertiary institutions were partly responsible for the low PC penetration in the country.
Therefore there was urgent need to boost domestic participation in the ICT industry by proving incentives to local hardware and software companies to increase local content.
In order to boost the Nigerian ICT industry, the CommTech Ministry has selected five leading indigenous PC makers in the country: Zinox Technologies, Omatek Computers, Brian Technologies, Beta Computers and Veda Computers to power the newly-introduced Students PC Ownership initiative, hoped to equip students in tertiary institutions.
The new Federal Government policy is expected to once again give a boost to the Nigerian PC makers who have being faced a daunting task in making their brands popular on the shelves across the country due to competition from rival international brands like HP, Dell, Acer, among others.
The renewal of the Buy-Nigeria policy under the Goodluck Jonathan administration is seen by Nigerian PC makers as a welcome development which will go a long way in boosting patronage and firing up their assembly lines once again.
The policy was first introduced under the regime of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo which was seen as one of the strategies to foster the adoption of ICTs in driving efficiency and productivity in governance.
Loe Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Group told Technology Times in an interview that the government directive is “laudable and a welcome development that will promote growth and improve the overall economy in Nigeria.”
His Zinox Computers was founded in 2001 by a team of ICT technocrats led by Ekeh. The technology company has since flourished into one of the leading ICT ecosystems in Africa with strong interest in computer hardware manufacturing, distribution, critical ICT solution, telecoms and world-class after-sales support.
Zinox is the pioneer manufacturer of Nigeria’s first internationally certified branded computers, institutionalized high end ICT solutions by moving the sector to the next level, the company says.
“As the foremost IT company to go into an uncharted terrain of computer production in West Africa, Zinox had Nigeria in mind as it debuted with the first ever Nigerian internationally certified branded computers with the Naira keyboard”, he adds.
On the other hand, Omatek Computers, founded by current President of Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Florence Seriki, originally started as a training outfit and progressed into executive training for bank executives and their counterparts from the oil and gas sector.
Omatek is especially known to have had a stint training the staff of Shell Petroleum and NNPC, the company says noting that its transformation continued and in 1990, Omatek Ventures Ltd, as the company was then known, became a vendor of some of the world-class computers such as Dell, Compaq, IBM and ACER.
Seriki, an engineer has so far grown the company and as a result of the excellent sales performance achieved by Omatek Ventures, the company was appointed as a premium partner of Microsoft.
Omatek was selling these products with annual revenue of over N160 million ($1m), the company says adding that in the course of time, it has metamorphosed from a computer selling firm to a computer manufacturer.
The need to continue to meet the minimum order quantity requirement of some of the best manufacturers in order to sustain production quality, led to the embrace of the SME scheme in partnership with Zenith Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank to manufacture casings, keyboards and speakers from Completely Knocked Down (CKD) components, produce the Omatek brand of computers, notebooks and servers, export computers, casings and speakers within Africa and generate employment opportunities in the IT industry for youths, says the technology company.
Meanwhile, Beta Computers Ltd, founded by Will Anyaegbunam, was incorporated in February, 1989 as an Information Technology Solutions company that is very active, strong and reputable in the following areas: AUTO-ID, POS and accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), sales and logistics automation. Its other business areas include networks- WLAN,LAN,WAN, IP & Internet, IT and Internet security, virtual private networks (VPN), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT), virtualizations, remote access connectivity, IP telephony and messaging and infrastructure and systems integration.
According to Beta Computers, the company is an Original Equipment Manufacturer of Speedstar range of PCs accredited by the Federal Government for purchase by all its ministries, departments and agencies.
Veda Technology Ltd, which was incorporated as Trantech Computer Technology Ltd in June, 2007 later changed its name to Veda Technology.
After a strategic exercise the owners decided on the establishment of a manufacturing and service company for the assembly and sales of computer and allied products such as computer hardware, accessories, LCD monitors and other associated products.
According to the company, Veda Technology operates out of Victoria Island and has its factory located in the heart of Lagos.
The company is driven by a young entrepreneur, Bode Pedro whose goal is to inspire the growth and development of computer technology in Africa through cutting-edge innovations and excellent solutions. He oversees the company’s business strategy and national market penetration with an expected future growth in sales in within the economy.
Brian Integrated Systems is a Nigerian-owned company running a world class factory for the assembly of the Brian brand of desktop computers, laptops and servers and founded by Tunji Balogun, who is also President of Computers and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), the umbrella body of businesses in Ikeja Computer Village.
The company says it is a brand set on cornering the information technology market and has since become synonymous with the dual concepts of quality and reliability.
In 2005, the company was endorsed by the Federal Government as one of the only four OEMs to assemble computers within Nigeria, under the Computers for All Nigerians Initiative (CANI), a project initiated by the government to promote information technology within Nigeria, Brian says.